Reform Roundup: November 11th, 2016

Posted by Avi Steele on November 11, 2016

Catch up on the week’s electoral reform news with our round up of folks across the country writing and talking about FairVote’s reform vision. We also invite you to read these highlights of great press for ranked choice voting in 2016.

  • Maine becomes the first state to adopt ranked choice voting for use in state and federal elections: “‘Maine has not elected a governor to a first term with majority support since 1966,” said Jill Ward, President of the League of Women Voters of Maine. ‘Ranked Choice Voting restores majority rule and puts more power in the hands of voters’ … ‘The adoption of Ranked Choice Voting in Maine marks a dramatic step forward for American democracy,” said FairVote executive director Rob Richie, “Maine's groundbreaking victory promises to inspire other states to embrace this better system.’

  • Bennett Hall covers the win for ranked choice voting in Benton County, Oregon for the Corvallis Gazette-Times: “‘I think we made history tonight,’ said co-chief petitioner Blair Bobier at an election watch party with about 50 supporters at a downtown Corvallis restaurant. ‘This is one small step for Benton County, and one giant leap for Oregon democracy.’ The measure could go into effect as early as the next general election in 2018, when it could be used in balloting for sheriff and county commissioner. Party primaries would not be affected”

  • On Maine, from Lee Drutman in Vox“I've made the case for ranked-choice voting here. Larry Diamond, Howard Dean, Krist Novoselic, and my colleague Michael Lind have also made strong cases. Broadly, we all expect ranked-choice voting would improve civility, expand voter choice, improve voter engagement, and lead to more ideological diversity by creating space for more parties. All of which seem desperately needed.”

  • On Maine, from Nik DeCosta-Klipa in The Boston Globe“With 98 percent of the vote reporting in the state, 52 percent of voters approved a ballot question making Maine the first state to implement ranked choice voting, a fundamental reform of how voters literally fill out their ballot … Maine has a political tradition of strong third parties and, in fact, only once in the last 40 years has the state’s governor been elected with majority. Of course, this means nearly every time, the majority of Mainers did not vote for their governor.”

  • On Maine, from Governing Magazine: “A ballot measure approved by voters will make Maine the first state to implement something known as ranked-choice voting. It's different than the traditional method, where the candidate who receives the most votes wins -- regardless of whether it's a majority … It turned out to have a special appeal in Maine. Because of relatively strong independent candidates, the winner in nine out of the last 11 gubernatorial elections in Maine came away with less than a majority of the vote.”

  • Following Maine’s vote, FairVote Communications Director Michelle Whittaker explains the benefits of ranked choice voting in a video for Newsy: “There’s no longer the spoiler effect because you can vote for the candidate you like the most. That can be a third party candidate; that can be an independent. It’s not going to help the candidate you like the least.”

  • FairVote California Deputy Director Pedro Hernandez explains San Francisco’s ranked choice voting system in an op-ed to MissionLocal: “Under ranked choice voting, door-to-door face-to-face interaction and coalition building will matter more than money in politics. Since candidates must have the support of more voters to win, they must engage with a broader voter base instead of relying on their sole constituencies. Candidates need to seek out second choice rankings from voters whose first choice may be somebody else. What you should expect to see are campaigns that are more focused on issues and values in a ranked choice voting election.”

  • Christian Caryl argues in Foreign Policy that the Constitution, brilliant though it is, needs to be updated to give greater voice to individuals in our democracy: “Judging by my recent conversations on the subject, many political experts in this country acknowledge that the Constitution is deeply out of step with the times. But the admission is usually accompanied by a fatalistic shrugging of the shoulders: The Constitution, after all, is the centerpiece of our civic religion, so it’s pointless to talk about changing it in any fundamental way. Better, they say, to concentrate on more easily achievable reforms. Some states are already showing the way. Virtually no one was paying attention on election day, given the scale of Trump’s victory, but Maine voters approved a potentially far-reaching change by passing a referendum on ranked-choice voting, an innovation geared to encouraging candidates who are ‘more open to moderation, compromise, and building governing coalitions,’ as scholar Larry Diamond put it in a Democracy Lab article a few weeks ago.”

  • FairVote’s Rob Richie and Cynthia Terrell are interviewed on Counter Spin about the future of electoral reform: “I think the system is letting us down in how the candidates campaign, of choices voters have, the representation they ultimately get, and we are seeing, I think, real beacons of light in reform opportunities … Ranked choice voting is a vehicle to give voters that they’re really typically ready to use.”

  • The Philadelphia Citizen details a number of voting reforms including ranked choice voting as ways to “unrig the election”: “Ranked choice voting solves the Nader problem—and thus encourages the existence of third parties—by allowing people to rank all candidates in order of preference. …[I]t’s infinitely more fair. In a ranked-choice system, a candidate must win a majority of all votes in order to win the election. If, after counting all of the first-choice votes, no one has a majority, then the candidate who had the fewest first-choice votes sees their votes redistributed based on those voters’ second choices. The process continues until someone crosses that 50 percent threshold.”

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